Jeddah book group leads reading revival through novel initiative

Huda Merchant, founder of Jeddah Reads, left, with other members of the group. The team aims to boost literary activites in Jeddah. (Supplied photo )
Updated 15 January 2019
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Jeddah book group leads reading revival through novel initiative

  • Jeddah Reads aims to revive reading in the city by making books more available for people yet to discover their inner bibliophile
  • Huda Merchant says she was encouraged to organize the group after noticing a "complete lack of a reading culture” in the city

JEDDAH: In a world dominated by the smartphone and the screen, bookworms have been forced to retreat into the shadows, rarely seen beyond the inner sanctums of libraries and reading rooms. Jeddah Reads, though, plans to change that.

A book-based social initiative, Jeddah Reads is a group that came together with one aim: To revive reading in their city by making books more available for people yet to discover their inner bibliophile.

Formed in 2015, the group thinks that by holding reading groups, workshops and social gatherings, more people will make the choice to start reading for themselves.

Huda Merchant, founder of Jeddah Reads, explained: “In 2014, I was researching cultural issues and trends in Saudi Arabia, and something I noticed was the complete lack of a reading culture.”

Among the projects being organized is Wameed 2.0, a series of talks on various themes, recent growth and change to coincide with the new year, to encourage people to use books to help them achieve their goals.

Abrar Al-Qayem, the project manager, said: “We try to have passionate members. That is the soul of this particular project; to encourage people with creative ideas, be they language-based, say, or artistic, who want to develop them.”

 

Message

Jeddah Reads has reached out to coffee shops and hospitals to promote their message. “We would like to see people reading books instead of texting,” Al-Qayem added. “Reading in the community is dying.” 

When gathering information about reading in schools, for example, Jeddah Reads made the shocking discovery that over 60 percent of them don’t have libraries. 

“There is a stigma about reading, because new devices are faster and more efficient. We aim to change this, to eliminate the stigma associated with reading,” said Al-Qayem.

The group gives free packages to new readers, with stationery, trinkets and, of course, a book. “We leave it up to chance to decide if the reader will like it!” Al-Qayem explained. 

“For me, reading is healing. I faced a lot of health problems, so I was always stuck with a book. Reading became an escape. I believe that words are powerful; you can always go anywhere through books.”

The next stage for Jeddah Reads is to expand their events to cater for all genders, age groups and genres, and at the rate the movement is progressing, it surely won’t be long before the population of Jeddah transforms into an army of avid readers.


KSA’s anti-graft agency Nazaha reports rise in corruption complaints

Nazaha has completed investigations into 59 percent of the complaints, with 4.4 percent referred to the Control and Investigation Board. (SPA)
Updated 29 min 50 sec ago
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KSA’s anti-graft agency Nazaha reports rise in corruption complaints

  • Nazaha announced the statistics as part of the National Strategy for the Protection of Integrity and Combating Corruption and Vision 2030

JEDDAH: Complaints to the Saudi National Anti-Corruption Commission, Nazaha, have risen by 50 percent in a single year amid increasing efforts to combat financial and administrative misconduct in the Kingdom.
Nazaha received 15,591 reports in 2018 compared with 10,402 the previous year, according to statistics released by the commission.
Financial and administrative corruption cases made up the bulk of the reports.
Nazaha has completed investigations into 59 percent of the complaints, with 4.4 percent referred to the Control and Investigation Board and 3.37 percent to the Kingdom’s Presidency of State Security.
The commission’s smartphone app received 29 percent of the reports, followed by the website at 23.6 percent, while 19.2 percent of the complaints were made in person at Nazaha’s branches. AN Jeddah
Nazaha announced the statistics as part of the National Strategy for the Protection of Integrity and Combating Corruption and Vision 2030.